When you find a chocolate brand you like, it’s hard to try something new, especially when it costs more than you’re used to paying. You might browse the candy aisle at your local grocery store and wonder if those fancy $8 bars are worth the price. If the chocolate is ethically sourced and manufactured, the price is a reflection of not only the taste, but the integrity of labor that went into producing it.

Mass-produced chocolate might be cheap, but it’s not only unhealthy — it’s unethical. Here are three reasons why you should avoid the mainstream chocolate brands and buy ethically sourced raw chocolate instead:

1. African cacao trade isn’t fair by any means

Chocolate is made from cacao — a bean that grows on the Theobroma cacao tree. And although cacao can come from sources in South America, most major chocolate brands source their cacao from Africa, which involves child slave labor and the destruction of the rain forests.

Because there are so many components involved in the supply chain for producing chocolate, not all manufacturers are aware of the unethical practices that occur in order to supply them with their ingredients.

On a mission to bring this awareness to the manufacturers, filmmakers created a documentary called The Dark Side of Chocolate in 2010, exposing the unethical practices involved in supplying the big brands with ingredients. Rather than acknowledge the truth, the manufacturers chose to remain ignorant and physically removed the filmmakers from the property.

TheGoodShoppingGuide.com offers a helpful guide to ethical, organic and fair-trade chocolate. These are the three regulated labels that can tell you the most about where your chocolate comes from, how it’s made and whether or not the producers have been paid a fair price for it. You’ll notice that most of the major chocolate manufacturers fall toward the very bottom of the colored rankings chart.

Finding ethically sourced chocolate is important, but you also want to make sure you’re getting a high-quality product. Due to the high nutritional value of raw cacao, finding ethically sourced raw chocolate is the best you can get.

2. Processed chocolate is depleted of nutrients

Raw cacao can provide many health benefits and naturally contains the following important nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Chromium
  • Theobromine
  • Phenethylamine (PEA)
  • Arginine
  • Anandamide
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega 6
  • Tryptophan
  • Serotonin
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Antioxidants

When chocolate is made using raw cacao, it retains its mineral content and becomes a nutrient-dense superfood. On the other hand, when cacao is heavily processed in order to make traditionally manufactured chocolate, most of these nutrients are lost, making it nothing more than a sugary midnight snack.

This makes choosing ethically sourced raw chocolate one of the best choices you can make. Who knew eating chocolate could be so good for you?

3. Processed chocolate has too much sugar

The main ingredient in mass-produced chocolate is sugar. And excess sugar consumption has been proven to be toxic to the body, causing diabetes, obesity and other illnesses.

To find the best ethical, raw chocolate, go for the products with the shortest supply chain. For example, Berber’s Gold is organic, raw chocolate handmade with love. Made by a raw foods expert, Berber’s Gold is vegan, gluten-free and soy-free and contains:

  • Cacao that is free from mold and micro-toxins
  • Fully mineralized cane sugar grown on volcanic soil
  • Handmade organic sprouted nut butter fillings
  • More than 45 Chinese, Ayurvedic and Moroccan tonic herbs and spices

You can’t always see what it takes to bring your food to the table, so it makes sense to choose products with a reputation for being ethically sourced and manufactured. Besides, once you’ve tasted ethically sourced raw chocolate, your life will never be the same. It will be all but impossible to go back to eating the big-name brands.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock

By Jenna Cyprus

Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities and worked with more than 100 businesses over the course of the past 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking and skiing with her family.